Colombia’s new plan to tackle high rate of pregnancy among under 14s

Girls' education

Almost 13,000 girls in Colombia aged 10 to 14 became pregnant in the past two years – many of them raped by stepfathers and other relatives.

Young mothers in the South American country – in common with many other developing nations – are more likely to drop out of school and their own children often go on to become teenage parents themselves.

Colombia is tackling the problem by creating a new government body to reduce teenage pregnancies. The group will sit within the existing child and family protection agency (ICBF).

ICBF head Cristina Plazas said: “Teenage pregnancy is both a cause and consequence of big economic inequalities. One in every five women in Colombia between 15 to 19 years of age are or have been pregnant – and what’s most worrying is that 64% of those pregnancies were not planned.”

The Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charity arm of the global news agency, said rape of young girls by family members is still a taboo subject in Colombia and few men are convicted and even fewer go to jail. It said civil rights groups also claim there is poor-quality sex education at school. You can read the article here.

With 20% of adolescent girls becoming pregnant, there is still some way to go to achieve Millennium Developoment Goal 5, which calls for that to be reduced to 15%.

While most Colombian childen go to primary school and can read and write, enrollment rates for secondary drop to between 80% and 90%, according to UNICEF data from 2012.

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